Looking to make your daily commute a little more fun and a little more green? If your answer is yes, consider buying an e-scooter. Electric scooters come in many different types and are the perfect transportation choice for short-distance travel in urban areas. That being said, as a first-time buyer choosing the best e-scooter from the many varieties out there can feel overwhelming.
Do you go for the cheapest option just to test the technology out? Or choose a solid and high-tech version that you can count on blindly? The considerations for buying an e-scooter are many, and your personal goals will also influence the choice you make. Below, we've outlined some important factors you must definitely take into mind when buying an electric scooter in 2022. Read on.
The size of your scooter's wheel is an extremely important consideration when buying an e-scooter model. The size affects the portability of your scooter and even how smooth your ride is. Smaller wheels may imply a lower weight and compactness, which is advantageous for multi-modal transportation, for instance combining your ride with public transport.
However, larger wheels are better at providing grip, stability, and shock absorption on the road, hence improving the safety of your ride. Furthermore, larger wheels also usually come with a larger deck for added comfort on longer rides.
For sure the best way to decide on the wheel size is to test-ride the device before buying it. It will be up to you to decide on that trade-off between the comfort and stability of larger wheels versus the light weight and compactness of smaller wheels.
Another important factor in buying an e-scooter is weight. Lightweight e-scooters have smaller batteries and motors, making them less powerful. They provide a shorter range. A commercial-grade heavyweight model is your best bet if you are looking for faster speeds and a sturdier build. If, however, comfort and portability are super important to you, a lighter weight option is a great alternative and even better for shorter commutes. Lightweight models are sleeker and more compact and can be carried and stowed away easily.
It goes without saying that safety should be a major concern when choosing an e-scooter. Scooters don't come with the comfort of a protective shell, like in the case of a car so they are exposed to the elements. Now comes the more technical part: Mainly, there are two types of brakes - mechanical and electronic, which are further subdivided into disc brakes, drum brakes, and foot brakes. Disc brakes are generally considered the best option as they are easier for maintenance, followed by drum brakes which are a bit more expensive and harder to replace when needed.
Some scooters also come with a dual braking system that is better than a single front or back brake and ideal for riding in wet conditions. And then there are electric brakes which electrically create resistance, making the motor stop. Most scooters in the market use a combination of an electronic brake (called KERS) along with a front- or rear-wheel mechanical brake for the best efficiency.
Our CEO at STEPFix has to say the following about performance: The speed and acceleration you need from your e-scooter will depend on a number of factors like your driving style or body weight. If you are an experienced rider who needs a high-performing device with all the surrounding bells and whistles there are, a high-performance scooter (with higher motor power) is what you should opt for.
But, it’s important to know that the legal speed limit for e-scooters in Belgium is 25km/h, and any scooter above that falls into a different category, requiring you to do a vehicle registration and to hold a driver’s license. Recently, more and more checks are being done by police officers, so be careful if you ride with a device that is flashed (i.e. using changed firmware) to make it ride faster than the legal speed limit on public roads.
Because of this important speed limit, we focus on ‘performance’ rather than speed as a characteristic. The performance will determine your acceleration, which is how fast you reach the maximum speed. The power of your motor on the other hand determines your performance. The cheapest models will have motor powers around 250 Watts, while very high-performance devices might use dual motors, summing up to over 2000 Watts. While 250 Watts might be sufficient in many flat cities, in most of Flanders for example, you would however need a device with a motor power of at least 500 Watts in hilly towns (e.g. in Wallonia or parts of Brussels).
The performance of your scooter also determines its range, that is, how far your scooter will go on a full charge. Most scooters have speed-mode settings, which allow you to change the motor’s power supply for your ride. Eco-mode will limit your maximum speed and/ or maximum power, but in return provide you with a better range. Speed-mode on the other hand will give you the maximum power your motor can handle, but your range will drop dramatically.
Producers will provide a theoretical range value in the specification sheets. These numbers are calculated on quite specific conditions (on asphalt, 25°C air temperature, 15 km/h speed, 70 kg weight), which may not always represent how you are using your device on a daily basis. The range of your electric scooter will heavily depend on these various factors, like motor power, rider weight, scooter weight, weather, mode, and average speed. Hence, it is always important to keep this compromise in mind: you should not expect the range you have in the specs when you are always riding at maximum speed. As a general rule, it is advisable to take 50-70% of the range given by your manufacturer to come to a reasonably accurate assessment.
Comfort is a critical consideration when buying an e-scooter. Whether you opt for buying an e-scooter with or without a seat, it will never be quite as comfortable as driving a car. However, different models provide different levels of comfort to make things easier. Just to be safe, choose a scooter with a comfortably wide deck for the comfort of your feet and one with excellent suspension (either at the front and/ or rear). Tire size and type also affect rider comfort. Large pneumatic tires over 9 inches provide support and stability on busy, potholed roads and bumpy sidewalks. When it comes to throttle and handle, a scooter that provides excellent gripping and reduces wrist fatigue during long commutes is a good choice.
A final note from STEPFix
Last but not least, the brand of the device you are buying is also important when it comes to the longevity and durability of your e-scooter. It may not always be intuitive to think about the case of device failure and maintenance issues while buying a scooter, but we would certainly recommend buying devices that you know are easier to service and for which firms like STEPfix can easily provide you with spare parts. You may be tempted to buy from a brand that copies mainstream brands like Xiaomi and Segway because of a small discount offer. However, when you need a repair, your costs might be much higher because of the difficulty of finding the required spare parts and due to the no-warranty provided by these producers.
Choosing a scooter model that suits your needs should hopefully be an easier decision now with all the above information you have!